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Reasons To Be Cheerful
"I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.

The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, "Oh no!" Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, "Hey, there's actually some positive stuff going on!" Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

I will post thoughts, images and audio relating to this initiative on whichever platform seems suitable and I’ll welcome contributions from others, if they follow the guidelines I’ve set for myself.

These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories:

Education
Health
Civic Engagement
Science/Tech
Urban/Transportation
Energy
Culture

Culture, music and the arts might include, optimistically, some of my own work and projects, but just as much I hope to promote the work of others that has a proven track record.

Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess, though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.

Emulation of successful models- 4 guidelines

I laid out 4 guidelines as I collected these examples:

1. Most of the good stuff is local. It’s more bottom up, community and individually driven. There are exceptions.

2. Many examples come from all over the world, but despite the geographical and cultural distances in many cases others can adopt these ideas—these initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated.

3. Very important. All of these examples have been tried and proven to be successful. These are not merely good IDEAS; they’ve been put into practice and have produced results.

4. The examples are not one-off, isolated or human interest, feel-good stories. They’re not stories of one amazing teacher, doctor, musician or activist- they’re about initiatives that can be copied and scaled up.

If it works, copy it

For example, in an area I know something about, there was an innovative bike program in Bogota, and years later, I saw that program become a model for New York and for other places.

The Ciclovia program in Bogota"
davidbyrne  politics  urban  urbanism  bogotá  curitiba  addiction  portugal  colombia  brazil  brasil  jaimelerner  cities  society  policy  qualityoflife  economics  drugs  health  healthcare  crime  ciclovia  bikes  biking  bikesharing  activism  civics  citybike  nyc  medellín  afroreggae  vigariogeral  favelas  obesity  childabuse  education  casamantequilla  harlem  civicengagment  engagement  women'smarch  northcarolina  ingridlafleur  afrotopia  detroit  seattle  citizenuniversity  tishuanajones  sunra  afrofuturism  stlouis  vancouver  britishcolumbia  transportation  publictransit  transit  velib  paris  climatechange  bipartisanship  energy  science  technology  culture  music  art  arts  behavior  medellin 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Black Star: Rebirth Is Necessary - NOWNESS on Vimeo
"Director Jenn Nkiru authors a personal and powerful exploration of blackness through piecing together dreamlike portraits with stunning archival footage that includes Afrofuturism pioneer Sun Ra and revolutionary organization the Black Panther Party."

[See also: https://www.nowness.com/series/black-star/rebirth-is-necessary-jenn-nkiru ]
jennnkiru  film  sunra  blackpantherparty  blackness  2017  blackpanthers 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Africa Has Always Been Sci-Fi | Literary Hub
"As Afrofuturism has begun to migrate back to the motherland in earnest, the same relative dearth continues to plague theorists and writers. Even Mark Bould, whose introduction to Paradoxa’s issue on African science fiction offers a comprehensive if nebulous syllabus, implies that it is nascent: “If African sf has not arrived, it is certainly approaching fast.” The appearance of a deluge—a trend, a fad—is in effect a trickle. Is this just what happens when you cross blackness with futurity? As Dery asks of African Americans, “Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?” Or is this lack specific to African literature, where energies might seem to be better directed toward, say, political critique of corruption, poverty, disease, and unemployment?

Nnedi Okorafor, born in the United States to Nigerian immigrants, both bridges this breach and fills it. She appears on lists of black sci-fi on either side of the Atlantic. And while she says that she has “issues with [the label] Afrofuturism,” she is one of the most prolific black writers of speculative fiction out there, and has set several of her fantasy and science fiction novels on the continent. Okorafor, in other words, is Afropolitan and African American: she insists that her “flavor of sci-fi is evenly Naijamerican (note: ‘Naija’ is slang for Nigeria or Nigerian).” Yet in an essay on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, Okorafor herself bemoans the scant canon:
Here’s my list of “African SF.” It’s really short … How do I define African SF? I don’t. I know it when I see it … The main fact is that this list DOES exist. Africans ARE writing their own science fiction, contrary to what some may think. But the fact is that Africans need to also write more of it.

When building a canon, the question of inclusion becomes paramount. If the African v. African American debate seems unduly academic or divisive, just imagine when the question of race comes in: what does it mean, as Okorafor notes, that the first major African science fiction film, District 9, was directed by a white South African? In another essay, “Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?,” Okorafor cites two experts—a Nollywood director and a scholar of African fiction—who both essentially say no. Though she is more optimistic on the question, Okorafor explains: “In Africa, science fiction is still perceived as not being real literature. It is not serious writing.… African audiences don’t feel that science fiction is really concerned with what’s real, what’s present. It’s not tangible.”

But to take the intangible, the unreal, the absent and make of them a world is precisely the mandate of science fiction. In his remarkable ur-Afrofuturist film Space is the Place (1974), Sun Ra, adorned in Egyptian regalia, travels to Oakland, CA to recruit black folk to colonize the planet Saturn. Like some kind of intergalactic Marcus Garvey, he wants to “set up a colony for black people … bring them here through transmolecularization … or teleport the whole planet here … through music.” He tells dissipated hipsters at the local youth center: “I’m not real. I’m just like you. You don’t exist in this society. If you did, your people wouldn’t be seeking equal rights. You’re not real. If you were, you’d have some status among the nations of the world. So we’re both myths. I do not come to you as a reality. I come to you as the myth. Because that’s what black people are, myths.” Afrofuturism’s insight is to elide the African diaspora with outer space as loci of blackness, roiling vats of inky, rich, infinite potential. The etymology of utopia, after all, is ou + topos, or not + place. Introducing himself to a wino, Sun Ra cryptically declaims: “I am everything and nothing.”"
nnediokorafor  afrofuturism  scifi  sciencefiction  africa  2016  afropolitan  dieantwoord  southafrica  sunra  samueldelany  lagos  markdery  nigeria  district9  speculativefiction 
april 2016 by robertogreco
▶ The last angel of history - Introduction - YouTube
"A 1995 documentary directed by John Akomfrah discussing all things afrofuturistic. Features interviews with George Clinton, Derrick May, Kodwo Eshun, Stephen R. Delany, Nichelle Nichols, Juan Atkins, DJ Spooky, Goldie and many others. The film makes mention to Sun Ra, whose work centers around the return of blacks to outer space in his own Mothership. Produced in 1995.

This is just a brief section of the documentary. An introduction so to speak."

[via: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/coming-to-new-york-city-film-screening-series-space-is-the-place-afrofuturism-at-bamcinematek-20150226 via http://tinyletter.com/realfuture/letters/rf-disaffected ]
1995  afrtofuturism  futurism  music  georgeclinton  derrickmay  kodwoeshun  stephendelany  nichellenichols  juanatkins  djspooky  goldie  robertjohnson  sunra  johnakomfrah  mothershipconnection  space  outerspace  mothership 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Afro Boho Snob | Black People Willing Themselves into the Future, The Growing Popularity of Afrofuturism
"Lately there has been so much discourse across the interwebs about Afrofuturism. Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard the word Afrofuturism but in the context of current racial strife and marginalization of Black people and Black culture, or as Azealia Banks boldly called it, "cultural smudging", it seems to be a concept that is more prescient than ever.

Just what is Afrofuturism?

If I could distill it down to plain terms, Afrofuturism is a conscious movement by writers, creators, musicians, visual artists, and art curators to make sure that Black people have a place in futuristic imaginative worlds in lierature and art, but incorporating Black aesthetic and history while doing so. Essentially, it is a movement willing Black people into the future through our own lens.

The Progenitors of Afrofuturism

Many credit writer Mark Dery with coining the term Afrofuturism in his 1993 essay Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel Delaney, Greg Tate and Tricia Rose:

“African-Americans are, in a very real sense, the descendants of alien abductees. They inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done to them; and technology, be it branding, forced sterilization, the Tuskegee experiment, or tasers, is too often brought to bear on black bodies.”

—Mark Dery, Black to the Future

Other progenitors of Afrofuturism include:

Author, Octavia Butler

Musician, Sun Ra

Songrwriter/Conceptualist, George Clinton

The Artwork of Comic artist Pedro Bell

Why is Afrofuturism catching on?

One of my favorite figures in this Afrofuturist movement is Ingrid Lafleur.

I reached out to her to ask her if indeed the movement is growing and what were her thoughts in general around Afrofuturism.

Ms Lafleur says "I really enjoy looking at Afrofuturism through the lens of spirit science. References to cosmology, and all her various forms, shows up often quite across genres. After some research and remembering, I realized that a cosmic consciousness was always present within ancient African history and beyond. Those occupying black bodies continuously call upon that collective cultural memory embedded within us in order to not only continue the tradition and remain centered, but also to resist and heal from oppressive forces.

Afrofuturism has now become a catch-all phrase to all things black and speculative. The labeling of this particular aesthetic has helped create a tighter community of those who enjoy the speculative realm and an easier way to find even more material to engage. The Afrofuturist community has always existed, but the internet has helped it grow and provide space to really investigate, discuss and revel in other dimensions. This is evident in the number of clubs, organizations, conferences, screenings, talks, exhibitions and projects (such as my own) inspired by Afrofuturism and Octavia Butler."

Who are the people currently incorporating Afrofuturism into their literature and art?

Robert Pruitt [http://futuristicallyancient.com/2012/05/08/art-of-this-world-robert-pruitt/ ]

Janelle Monae [http://www.jmonae.com/ ]

Rasheedah Phillips [http://www.afrofuturistaffair.com/#!creative-rasheedah-phillips/c12fw ]

Ingrid Lafleur [http://www.ingridlafleur.com/curator/ ]

Ytasha Womack [http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150105/beverly/afrofuturism-takes-shape-with-help-of-south-side-author ]

We are even seeing the emergence of parties and events themed around Afrofuturism from Atlanta to Philadelphia.

[images]

Perhaps it is, that as Black people around the world continue to struggle and continue not to see themselves in mainstream media, Afrofuturism will continue to gain in popularity as a form of futuristic escapism.

Here are a few links to explore more about Afrofuturism

www.facebook.com/AFROTOPIA

www.afrofuturistaffair.tumblr.com

www.quantumfuturism.tumblr.com

Finally, a shout out to Mike Street of my Ad Fam Facebook group for telling me about this 1995 storytelling masterpiece tackling the subject of Afrofuturism, John Akomfrah's The Last Angel of History

Click this link to watch: http://vimeo.com/72909756 "
afrofuturism  futurism  ingridlefleur  2015  robertpruitt  janellemonae  rasheedahphillips  ytashawomack  octaviabutler  sunra  georgeclinton  pedrobell  markdery  samueldelaney  gregtate  triciarose  history  future 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sun Ra's Full Lecture & Reading List From His 1971 UC Berkeley Course, "The Black Man in the Cosmos" | Open Culture
"A pioneer of “Afrofuturism,” bandleader Sun Ra emerged from a traditional swing scene in Alabama, touring the country in his teens as a member of his high school biology teacher’s big band. While attending Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, he had a out-of-body experience during which he was transported into outer space. As biographer John Szwed records him saying, “my whole body changed into something else. I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn.” While there, aliens with “little antenna on each ear. A little antenna on each eye” instructed him to drop out of college and speak through his music. And that’s just what he did, changing his name from Herman Blount and never looking back.

Whether you believe that story, whether Sun Ra believes it, or whether his entire persona is a theatrical put-on should make no difference. Because Sun Ra would be a visionary either way. Combining Afrocentric science fiction, esoteric and occult philosophy, Egyptology, and, with his “Arkestra,” his own brand of free jazz-futurism that has no equal on earth, the man is truly sui generis. In 1971, he served as artist-in-residence at UC Berkeley and offered a spring semester lecture, African-American Studies 198, also known as “Sun Ra 171,” “The Black Man in the Universe,” or “The Black man in the Cosmos.” The course featured readings from—to name just a few—theosophist Madame Blavatsky, French philosopher Constantin Francois de Chasseboeuf, black American writer and poet Henry Dumas, and “God,” whom the cosmic jazz theorist reportedly listed as the author of The Source Book of Man’s Life and Death (otherwise known as the King James Bible).

Now we have the rare opportunity to hear a full lecture from that class at the top of the post. Listen to Sun Ra spin his intricate, bizarrely otherworldly theories, drawn from his personal philosophy, peculiar etymologies, and idiosyncratic readings of religious texts. Hearing him speak is a little like hearing him play, so be prepared for a lot of free association and jarring, unexpected juxtapositions. Szwed describes a “typical lecture” below:
Sun Ra wrote biblical quotes on the board and then ‘permutated’ them—rewrote and transformed their letters and syntax into new equations of meaning, while members of the Arkestra passed through the room, preventing anyone from taping the class. His lecture subjects included Neoplatonic doctrines; the application of ancient history and religious texts to racial problems; pollution and war; and a radical reinterpretation of the Bible in light of Egyptology.

Luckily for us, some sly student captured one of those lectures on tape. For more of Professor Ra’s spaced out presentation, see the Helsinki interview above, also from 1971. And if you decide you need your own education in “Sun Ra 171,” see the full reading list from his Berkeley course below, courtesy of the blog New Day."
sunra  art  culture  1971  ucberkeley 
october 2014 by robertogreco
U B U W E B - Film & Video: Sun Ra - Brother from Another Planet (2005)
"Born in perhaps the most segregated place on Earth – early 20th-century Alabama – Herman Poole Blount rejected his name, his origins and the conventions of the time (or any other, for that matter), re-creating himself as Sun Ra, emissary from Saturn ("planet of discipline") and musical genius. Blending Egyptology and Space Age imagery, he projected a philosophy of radical empowerment for the entire cosmos; keeping a big band on the road for decades through independence and communal living, he became a patriarch of jazz and an avatar of freewheeling space music."

"Punk film legend Don Letts presents the Sun Ra story in all its glory, combining powerful footage of Ra and his legendary Arkestra, interviews with band members shot at their famous group house in Philadelphia, and testimony from Archie Shepp, Amiri Baraka, John Sinclair and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore."
jazz  music  brotherfromanotherplanet  2005  documentaries  film  donletts  sunra 
august 2012 by robertogreco

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